Middle and Upper School faculty spend in-service learning how to be better equipped to approach advisees

By: Matthew Trump, Dean of Faculty

While many had January 16th off in celebration of M.L.K., the faculty at YCDS spent the day participating in a variety of activities during an in-service day. Specifically, the faculty of our students in grades 6-12 participated in a professional development opportunity that addressed the social and emotional needs of our students.  

One aspect of County Day teachers, outlined in the school’s mission, is that they know and value our students. Our community’s approach toward accomplishing this part of the mission includes the advisory program in the Middle and Upper School. Faculty members serve as an advisor for six to eight students within a grade level. Advisors meet with students on a daily basis to support their academic and social growth. Faculty members are experts in the field of education and support students in their courses of study. The second portion of this arrangement, meeting the social and emotional needs of adolescents, is a skill that can be honed, just as a Biology teacher may keep up with current best pedagogical practices as outlined by the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association). The faculty did just that during the morning of in-service.

Teachers participated in a workshop run by Elizabeth Trump, MS, EdS, LPC, NCC. Elizabeth is a graduate of Duke University (Philosophy, Psychology, and Religion) and UNC Greensboro (MS, Community Counseling). She has spent the last ten years working as a mental health professional most often with adolescents.  

Elizabeth shared her expertise in working with students in grades 6-12. She provided teachers with practical skills to encourage active and dynamic listening. Furthermore, she shared strategies for assessing the social and emotional needs of our adolescents. After practicing these skills with colleagues, teachers found that many of the learned skills are transferable to both individuals outside of the student body as well as to students in their own classrooms.

After working on interpersonal communication skills, the workshop provided background on major issues facing adolescents in 2017. These included anxiety, eating disorders, self injurious behavior, etc. This information was shared with teachers so that they may be better equipped to recognize potential warning signs in students. Furthermore, teachers practiced handling social and emotional issues for which they can provide assistance, while identifying issues that may require assistance by a mental health professional.

The faculty had a positive response to the training. Many stated that while they have been dealing with many of the discussed issues throughout their teaching career, they had never received formal training on the topics. By being able to have the vocabulary of mental wellness as well as the current best practices in their teaching toolkit, our faculty are prepared to meet student wellness in a productive and helpful manner.

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